Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Bay is Dying, What are You Going to Do About It?

The Capital reported yesterday that the Bay had its largest dead zone in 20 years during the past summer. On average, five percent of the Bay's mainstem contained no dissolved oxygen at all. During August, 10 percent had no oxygen, and 41 percent had low oxygen. The low oxygen levels in the Bay are the result of high nutrient loads (e.g., nitrogen and phosphorous) and warm weather temperatures. These high nutrient levels cause rapid growth of algal blooms. The algal blooms then cause the water to become murky and reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the Bay’s underwater plants and animals. When the blooms die, oxygen is depleted as the algae decay.

Kim Coble, Executive Director of the Chespeake Bay Foundation called on governments to increase their efforts to reduce pollution. I'm calling on you, the citizens of the watershed not to wait for government to do something, but for us to take up the mantle of saving the Bay ourselves. Every time you fertilize your lawn you help put one more nail in the Bay's coffin. If you have waterfront property, please plant a buffer between your lawn and the water (if one doesn't already exist) to help prevent the runoff of nutrients into the Bay. If you have an old and/or failing septic system, purchase a denitrifying septic system. We have each had a role in the Bay's decline. It's time each of us gave something back to its recovery.

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